Carbonara – the Italian Recipe

I won’t dwell too much on the name origin of this Italian classic recipe, for which many are the presumed stories , but none of them sure. What is certain is that this classic recipe from Lazio was popular only after the Second World War, it is one of the most famous recipes in the world, and also one of the simplest pasta sauces there are to make. However, you still find some recipes that get it completely wrong, by adding extra ingredients that are not necessary at all for this recipe. It is definitely a winner at dinner parties with Anglo-Saxon friends – who will wonder at how magically you pulled together their favourite breakfast ingredients in a dinner dish. Serves two people.

220gr dried spaghetti
100gr smoked bacon lardons (yup, bacon does just fine for this one, but of course if you could pass by the Italian deli, get 100gr pancetta or guanciale)
100gr grated parmesan (or, if you have some pecorino cheese, use it 50/50 with the parmesan)
2 eggs +1 extra yolk
salt and black pepper

Step 1. Put a generous amount of salted water into a large pan, and bring to the boil. In the meantime, fry your bacon (or pancetta) in a splash of extra virgin olive oil: this time, as per Ken Hom’s suggestion, I’m using a wok.

Step 2. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti, and stir a little till they are all covered by water and cooking within stable bubbling water. In the meantime, make sure the bacon/pancetta cooks till golden but not too crunchy. Then turn the heat off and keep it in the wok, on the side.

Step 3. Prepare your sauce. Beat the eggs and the yolk together, and add part of the grated cheese until you reach a creamy consistency. You don’t need to add cream or butter. The grated cheese will be enough to reach the consistency you need, just have a little faith and sprinkle some pepper on it.

Step 4. Your pasta should be cooked, and you will know by tasting it, rather than looking at the clock. Al dente or not, it is your choice: once it has the consistency you like, drain it and put it in the wok, turn the heat on again and let the pasta fry gently in the mixture of bacon/pancetta and the fat that was released by frying it.

Step 5. Your pasta should be wet and greasy with bacon flavour juices so you are ready to add the sauce. Let the wok do the job of keeping the heat high, and turn off your stove. Add all the sauce on the spaghetti. Then gently mix the pasta, by lifting up some spaghetti again and again, making sure the sauce is well distributed. Serve up and add the remaining grated cheese on the top and, if you like, some freshly grounded black pepper. I hope you enjoy it – let me know!

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